Nature-based solutions (NBS) are inspired and supported by nature but designed by humans. Historically, governmental stakeholders have aimed to control nature using a top-down approach; more recently, environmental governance has shifted to collaborative planning. Polycentric governance and co-creation procedures, which include a large spectrum of stakeholders, are assumed to be more effective in the management of public goods than traditional approaches. In this context, NBS projects should benefit from strong collaborative governance models, and the European Union is facilitating and encouraging such models. While some theoretical approaches exist, setting-up the NBS co-creation process (namely co-design and co-implementation) currently relies mostly on self-organized stakeholders rather than on strategic decisions. As such, systematic methods to identify relevant stakeholders seem to be crucial to enable higher planning efficiency, reduce bottlenecks and time needed for planning, designing, and implementing NBS. In this context, this contribution is based on the analysis of 16 NBS and 359 stakeholders. Real-life constellations are compared to theoretical typologies, and a systematic stakeholder mapping method to support co-creation is presented. Rather than making one-fit-all statements about the “right” stakeholders, the contribution provides insights for those “in charge” to strategically consider who might be involved at each stage of the NBS project.
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